Backyard Brawl chat transcript featuring Colin Dunlap and Paul Zeise

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Dan Gigler: Ok folks -- thanks for coming -- Colin Dunlap is here and ready to answer your questions, Paul is having some transportation issues and may join us later on.

Colin Dunlap: Alright ... I am here ... YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE ... at me. We are waiting for Zeise to log in ... but in the interim, I will entertain a few questions.

JoePaFearsPitt: Any chance we'll see a return appearance of the banana uniforms from 13-9?

Colin Dunlap: Don't count on it. WVU has yet to wear blue-on-blue this season. That, coupled with the fact that Pitt beat the Mountaineers with those gold uniforms on, I would be surprised if WVU came strolling out in those on Friday.

SDWC: Can you give a status update on Noel Devine?

Colin Dunlap: I said earlier this week that, in my estimation (and keep in mind practices at WVU are entirely closed to the media) that Devine is probably somewhere between 80-85 percent. At this time of the year, for a back who is a little guy, that is about the best you can hope for. I am sticking to that -- I think Noel is about 80-85 percent. But it is purely an educated guess.

Reelin_in_the_eers: Colin, are you and Paul travelling down together? If so, does the losing team's writer have to walk home?

Colin Dunlap: I don't know if we are, I have to speak to Paul about that. I am more apt to travel w/ Ron Cook, as Ron and I think alike -- we both like to get to the stadium very early. About the walking home part, perhaps. But if it came down to swinging in the parking lot after the game, I'd take my chances. Paul Z. is a big fella, but I am certain I might have the speed advantage, thus being able to quickly wrestle the keys from him.

fear_the_mustache: Defensively do you see WVU stacking the box to slow Dion and make Stull beat them?

Colin Dunlap: Great question. I just saw somewhere where the weather could be calling for some wind. If that is, indeed the case, I think WVU (even with its 3-3-5 stack) might come up and play run-heavy in terms of defense. But, don't forget about Henry Hynoski, he is a guy who could make a huge difference in this game. I agree with you, though. Especially if there is foul weather, I could see WVU trying to make Bill Stull beat them.

script_pitt: Uniforms, uniforms, and uniforms. We all know Paul is the uniform expert ... a uniform is supposed to be something to rally behind, and is you took an end zone pic of the Pitt v. ND (or Navy for that matter) when both teams were at the line you would be hard pressed to say which team was which. On the flip side Colin, is WVU going to wear there pretty sprakling helmets?

Colin Dunlap: I don't know, I noticed that for the Cincy game a few weeks ago, those things have blue paint on them like a '67 Camaro -- they really sparkle with these little dot sort of things. And, for the record, I would love to see Pitt go back to the script. I have been telling Pitt equipment man Ox Enright, for years, and before him Mouse McCullough that Pitt should have the cursive, script logo. Unfortunately, I don't think either of those guys have enough juice down there to make that kind of decision.

Wes_Mantooth: Can WVU's secondary contain Baldwin and Dickerson?

Colin Dunlap: One. Not both.

WVUFLYER: Who does the potentially bad weather favor the most?

Colin Dunlap: I would say WVU, but with a asterisk. It would favor the Mountaineers if the offensive coaching staff goes with Ryan Clarke on a majority of the carries.

Paul_Alexander_s_Man_Tan: So which one do you contain, Baldwin of Dickerson?

Colin Dunlap: If I am a d-coordinator, this a ridiculous case of picking your poison. But, I would try to stop Dickerson. Baldwin makes the spectacular catch, the one that gets on the highlight reels and the one everyone likes to watch over and over and over again. But what Dorin does, in the middle of the field, sitting down sometimes and then other times simply out running a linebacker, is something that, to me at least, hurts a defense more. While Baldwin's output it more spectacular, I think Dickerson's is more pivotal -- that said, I would concentrate my efforts in stopping Dickerson and hope Stull is off when he needs to throw it deeper, as in those passes to Baldwin.

Wes_Mantooth: What is WVU's bowl outlook if they win?

Colin Dunlap: If WVU wins, and then beats Rutgers, I am thinking they will go the Gator Bowl.

Devine7: Has that '07 game changed the direction of both programs?

Colin Dunlap: Ab-so-lutely. It was a span of time that shaped the two programs forever. I am firmly convinced WVU would have won the national championship. Also, had WVU won that game, I am pretty certain Cam Saddler, Shayne Hale and a few other guys would have gone to WVU. Also, Mr. Rodriguez might have ended up being to Morgantown what Mr. Paterno is to Happy Valley...i.e. -- he might have stayed there forever. For Pitt, the win turned into a springboard, it became the bounce in the program Dave Wannstedt needed to push it back to national prominence.

dcguywv: If WVU loses, will Stewart do the right thing and resign?

Colin Dunlap: That is tremendously unfair and a low blow. Bill is a fine man, and his record has been good. Also, be careful what you wish for.

PittfanTJ: Does WVU have any other receivers who are threats other than Sanders?

Colin Dunlap: Yes. Alric Arnett is very good and Brad Starks can play. If Wes Lyons decides he wants to play, exert full effort, he can be a factor as well...that has yet to happen on a constant basis.

script_pitt: Are you going to buy Paul a watch for Christmas?

Colin Dunlap: One of those old ones ... a pocket one on a chain. Or, better yet, a big one like Flavor Flav that he can hang around his neck.

Canton_Panther: What does each fan base really gain by playing the stereotypical criticisms against Wanny & Stew?

Colin Dunlap: Zero. And if they aren't careful, they might get what they wish for. I hope those same people who tried to drive Dave out of Pittsburgh two years ago aren't cheering for him now -- that would be absolutely wrong. I applaud the people who stuck by Dave, and Bill Stewart said the same thing in a press conference last week. Bill said he had admiration not just for Dave, but for the Pitt fans who stuck with him as he built the program. I think some WVU fans need to look at what Pitt has done as a for instance.

script_pitt: Colin, how do you get treated being from a Pittsburgh paper but covering WVU? Is it like if Edward R. Murrow went over to the USSR?

Colin Dunlap: The WVU sports information people -- Mike Montoro and Michael Fragale -- are some of the best in the business. Great guys who are professionals. Also, people who cover the team like Dave Hickman, Mike Cassaza, Bob Hertzel, Drew Rubenstein and Steph Loh have been nothing but great. I am treated well, very well...we are all professionals.

Wes_Mantooth: Big East officiating has been suspect the last 2 seasons, and that's being kind. Will Pitt have an 18-on-11 advantage so that the conference can keep them undefeated in league play when they play Cincinnati?

Colin Dunlap: I said this the other day ... If Pitt beats WVU on Friday, and Cincy beats Illinois this weekend ... YIKES!!!!! I would not want to be Pitt in that game at Heinz Field. Think there might be a hold or two called against the Panthers after Dion Lewis breaks a run?

JoePaFearsPitt: Which little-used (or under-used) player for Pitt or WVU has a chance to make a big impact on this game?

Colin Dunlap: WVU it is Tavon Austin ... a real speedster. For Pitt ... I would say the Reed kid from Johnstown, if he gets pressed into service in the secondary.

Jay: If Pitt beats Cincy, they go to the BCS. You think the Gator would select WVU over Cincy? Is that based upon anticipated fan support?

Colin Dunlap: In that scenario, I think Cincy would go to Gator, WVU would go to Charlotte.

ImmaManIm40: Colin, I know throwbacks are Paul's department. Is he out meeting with AD Steve Pederson, ensuring he gets the final say-so: Pitt's breakin' out the Scripts Friday?

Colin Dunlap: Perhaps....when did they wear them last? I think I remember them against YSU once? Right?

Canton_Panther: I think both Wanny and Stew are great ambassadors for each program. If anyone would really listen to them. There are both very likeable guys who care very deeply for each university to succeed.

Colin Dunlap: I raise my glass to that.

Steven: Who do you think is better set for the next couple of years? Pitt or WVU? Pitt has had some great recruits commit, plus we have Dion and Ray for at least 2 more years!

Colin Dunlap: These teams will fight it out on top of the conference for the next few years. And I hope editor Jerry Micco keeps me around to let me cover it. Pitt has those two great backs, and I think Tino (or Bostick or Kolby Gray) will be a good QB. But, don't forget WVU has a very good QB in Geno Smith. And Tavon Austin, Shawne Alston, Brad Starks, Ryan Clarke, etc are all young guys ... I honestly feel as if Pitt and WVU have the best young talent in the Big East.

beeyebickiebuy: Could WVU really end up playing TEMPLE in the International Bowl?

Colin Dunlap: Could...not likely.

Devine7: Can the WVU line contain Pitt's pash rush?

Colin Dunlap: That is the $1000000000000000000000000000000000 (decillion) question. WVU's offensive front had a hard time with USF's front down in Tampa. Also, I did a story earlier this week where Don Barclay -- WVU's left tackle -- said that Pitt was "way tougher" and "much stronger" than USF up front. Pitt's line will get theirs ... Romeus and Mick and Sheard are too good. It is just a matter of if WVU can contain them, somewhat. Also, look for some screen game to Jock Sanders to keep those guys off balance.

43rdParallel: If Cincinnati beats Illinois soundly but loses a thriller to Pitt, could it slide into the BCS as a wild card at 11-1?

Colin Dunlap: I still think it could be tough for a Big East team, no matter the circumstances, to grab an at-large into the better hope someone beats Boise and/or TCU.

gopitt___: What odds do you give that Kelly the Cincy coach moves on to another job at the end of the year?

Colin Dunlap: 65 gone/45 UC


About ND, if NBC pays ND X amount per home game. Is X amount more then that ABC is paying the Big East for the for the game of the week. Wouldn't it make sense to let ND come into the big east and they can keep their NBC money. Then the rest of the big east can split the X amount for every ND away game in a new TV deal.

Colin Dunlap: Make sense. Then again, you don't need to convince me of much ... I have always been one of the people who has said ND needs to be in the league in ALL sports, or NO sports.

beeyebickiebuy: Any word about Casteel and the FSU DC job?

Colin Dunlap: I have heard the rumors, but I don't see it happening. I have been wrong before, though.

Canton_Panther: I would expect a lot of delayed handoffs from WVU to stop the Pitt rush (remember NC State?). Why hasn't other teams taken advantage of Pitts aggressive tendencies?

Colin Dunlap: Because Pitt's linebackers are better than people are giving them credit for ... people talk about that 4-man front so much, they forget the LBs are pretty good, too -- especially against the run. What that unit has done, even with the loss of McKillop, has been stellar, in my estimation.

ImmaManIm40: Colin, hypothetical: You're in Vegas, and English League Soccer is off the board. Your $100 bet must go somewhere, no one will know (well, except this chat room now). Pitt favored by one point. Pitt or WVU?

Colin Dunlap: Because of the weather, I bet the under.

fear_the_mustache: Good grief! Again with the unis? It's about the players, not what they are wearing.

Colin Dunlap: Unless you are Oregon.

beeyebickiebuy: Is there any chance that we will see something different from either team on Friday?

Colin Dunlap: If you are looking for trick plays, don't look for them in this one.

ImmaManIm40: Colin, so far it appears you are correct: you're much faster at answering Q's than Paul. How might this affect the game's outcome?

Colin Dunlap: My fingers might need treatment ... ice then heat, ice then heat, then rest.

dcguywv: Is this a must-win for Stewart given he's 1-4 vs. USF, Cincy and Pitt?

Colin Dunlap: Not a must win, but if the Mountaineers finish the season with losses to UC, then Pitt, then lose next week to Rutgers and then somehow lose the bowl, there will be people not too happy if this team loses four consecutive games to end the year. But, let's wait to see what happens.

Paul Zeise: I had a few technical issues but I am here now.

wvufan: Do you Feel WVU is better with or without RichRod?

Colin Dunlap: Tough one. Considering all that is going on in Ann Arbor, it would be tough to say people would ever want him back.

Colin Dunlap: Zeise arrives!

Dan Gigler: We'll keep the rooms open longer if any of you would like to send Paul some questions

43rdParallel: West Virginia's defensive starters are healthy (relatively speaking). How much does that help?

Paul Zeise: It helps an awful lot - they are going to need them because Pitt's offense is as good as it has been for as long as I've covered the team. Pitt can run and throw the ball well and have a lot of playmakers capable of breaking open games. The Panthers are explosive, if nothing else.

Canton_Panther: Predictions???

Paul Zeise: Well I think Pitt 24, WVU 20 but I could be persuaded the other way as well -- I think these two teams are very evenly matched.

slickwilley: Though they lost, do you think WVU might have turned a corner against Cinci? That was the best game they've played in my opinion.

Paul Zeise: The Cincinnati game was a close game and probably did help rebuild some confidence after the USF debacle but it is hard to tell if they have turned the corner - or if they just played a good team extremely tough.

wvufan: Colin, do you think that Cincy had a touchdown or a fumble?

Colin Dunlap: fumble.


Does the 3-3-5 alignment give WVU an advantage in containing Dorin Dickerson?

Paul Zeise: Yes from the standpoint that the matchup will likely be a safety covering him rather than a linebacker, but Frank Cignetti will do a good job scheming away from that and creating matchups for Dorin. That is what is so frustrating about last year - the lack of creativity and innovation to get a guy with that skill set into the offense more is ridiculous. Frank Cignetti has shown that if you scheme right and create matchups, you can use a guy with big talent as a difference maker.

beeyebickiebuy: Is it true that the AD's secretary was given ten minutes to create the current Pitt logo?

Paul Zeise: I have no idea - you should call her and ask as I am sure she will answer. OK, maybe not.

beeyebickiebuy: Coach Stew's record has been good, but, aside from the Fiesta Bowl, he really hasn't beaten any quality opponents.

Colin Dunlap: Look for a story in tomorrow's P-G ... the crux of it: Bill Stewart is still seeking a signature win. Friday presents that opportunity.


Who (outside of their own families) could have predicted that Bill Stull, Dorin Dickerson, and Dion Lewis would be finalists for those national awards? Does any of them have a chance of winning them?

Paul Zeise: I think Dorin has a great chance, except one of the finalists is from the defending national champs and the No. 1 team in the nation and sometimes that is enough to give a guy an edge. Bill Stull won't win because there are too many bigger name quarterbacks with ESPN-driven hype and Dion Lewis was not one of the finalists for his award. So in short, only Dorin has a realistic shot.

Habib_Haddad: Have either of you noticed a lessening in intensity between the teams since the ACC raid?

Paul Zeise: No, not at all. I was watching the 2007 game and it was clearly played with a high degree of emotion and intensity. I will say this - Bill Stewart has brought a little more civility to it because like him or not as a coach, there is no arguing the fact that he approaches his job with grace, dignity, humility and he is a gentleman in every sense of the word. He is a really good guy and that has helped lessen the animosity between the two teams.

Colin Dunlap: Alright folks, I am out ... I have a tryout with the New Jersey Nets at 3 p.m. Great chatting with all of you, enjoy the Brawl.

43rdParallel: Paul, latest game forecast calls for 34 degrees at kickoff with a WSW wind of about 10 mph and a 60% chance of snow. How does that affect the game plans?

Paul Zeise: Well, Pitt is built around a power-run game, so it doesn't change much for the Panthers. And I'd say that it might slow down the Mountaineers offense a little bit but even at that, noel Devine is a very good north-south runner. So I'd say it doesn't do much, except make a lot of fans extremely cold ...

vluv: Paul, where do you see Pitt headed record wise next season?

Paul Zeise: Wow? Next season? Already -- I have to see the recruiting class, see the team in camp, see who starts and who develops so this is a wild guess, but I think looking at what is coming back it has the feel of an 8-4 season, perhaps 7-5 because the schedule is tougher.

beeyebickiebuy: Paul, Colin says you are the uniform guy. Could you please get Pitt to go back to the script Pitt logo and use whatever influence that you have to convince WVU to get rid of that hideous yellow that they insist on calling gold?

Paul Zeise: Yes, because it is well documented that I love discussing uniforms, particularly the script Pitt. Um, how about no.

SDWC: Paul, who will return punts this week? In my opinion Pitt dodged a bullet against ND since some many punts were short and downed before they could be fielded.

Paul Zeise: It will be Aaron Smith and/or Cameron Saddler.

ImmaManIm40: Paul, might WVU be better-prepared for a possible Pitt win? By that, I mean having better sound-proofing on the post-game presser booth to dampen celebrations from the visitor's locker room? It was hard to hear RR last time.

Paul Zeise: This looks very much like a Q&A question I answered -- and I'll say the same thing, - this team, if it is fortunate enough to win, won't be jumping around like that 2007 team because this is a very serious, very focused group and their eyes is on the Big East prize. They will be happy if they win, but it won't be like that game, which changed the program.

Canton_Panther: Zeise & Dunlap: who's your MVP predictions for the game?

Paul Zeise: The cynics among us would say it won't be Wannstedt or Stewart. If Pitt wins, the MVP is likely to be Dion Lewis. If WVU wins, it will likely be Devine.

mouthharp_blues: Paul, what's your over/under for Dion Lewis rushing yards?

Paul Zeise: 140

ImmaManIm40: Paul, what's the story on Aaron Berry? Gotta give props to Antwuon Reed for giving a great effort on tough duty against all-world Golden Tate. But it could be a long day for Pitt fans if he's gotta log big minutes at CB.

Paul Zeise: He is "day-to-day" and he is a "game time decision." That is coachspeak for "don't ask questions about injuries during game week." I think if he is not at 100 percent he won't play because as big as this game is, the next one is far more important and they definitely need him in that one.

Jay: How does WVU expect to move the ball with such a poor-throwing QB? The last 2 years shows they no longer have the speed edge to run around and through the Pitt D, even with the drop back gimmick option.

Paul Zeise: This quarterback throws it more and better than Pat White did. The Mountaineers will make some plays in the passing game.

gopitt___: Paul - J-10 suited in early position ... fold or call?

Paul Zeise: In early position? Against a table that is playing tight? Raise and then follow thru with a bet after the flop regardless of what hits the board. Against a bunch of loose players and donkeys? I'd say fold. Calling in early position with that hand is terrible and weak in my humble opinion. So you either raise or fold it depending on how aggressive you are.

mouthharp_blues: Paul, do you know if Coach Wannstedt nominated Cignetti for the Broyles Award? He should have a good chance at winning that award.

Paul Zeise: I have no idea.

Paul Zeise: OK, thanks for the great questions, sorry I was a little bit late but we'll do it again next Thursday. I have to run to Pitt practice for the final availability session with Dave Wannstedt before the game.


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